This dish from Hugh is well seasoned and packed with flavour. The sauce is simple and can be used in many different ways too
For the tomato sauce
To make the polenta, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the garlic and chilli and sweat gently for a couple of minutes – don’t let the garlic colour. Add the rosemary and remove from the heat.
Pour 800ml water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Now pour in the polenta in a thin stream, stirring all the time. When smooth, allow it to return to a simmer. Cook for 4–5 minutes, stirring often, then remove from the heat. Stir in the garlic, chilli and rosemary mixture, then add the grated cheese and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Mix well.
Tip the polenta on to a cold surface, such as a plate or a marble slab, and spread it smoothly into an even disc, about 2cm thick. Leave to cool completely.
To make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sweat gently for a couple of minutes; don’t let it colour. Put the tomatoes into a large bowl with their juice and crush them with your hands. Tip the lot into the frying pan, adding a bay leaf if you have one handy. Bring to a simmer then cook for 20–30 minutes, stirring often and crushing the tomatoes with a fork until you have a thick, pulpy sauce. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.
When the polenta is cool and firm, cut into slices or wedges. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick pan over a medium-high heat and fry the polenta pieces for 2–3 minutes each side, until they have a light, golden brown crust. Serve topped with the hot tomato sauce.
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